Mr. and Mrs. Sen have saved for years to buy a condo with modern amenities and pleasant surroundings. There is no dearth of choices for them either in a fast-developing satellite town of Mumbai. Thus, flush with money, if they are now busy looking around the town for a suitable condo, that is only natural for anyone to do!
It is only that they have seen and rejected so many of them that one fears they will one day be left with no condo in the town to buy.
Today the couple has come to the site of Priya Constructions. The area is filled with dust of concrete; the skyline is dotted with cranes, scaffoldings; and one can get the smell of wet cement far from the site of the project. The ten-storey building they are interested in is quite big and is under construction with the structure ready and floors made, but the walls are yet to be built. The builder, Rajan Desai, waits for them as they drive up to the gate of the building.
RAJAN: (On mobile phone talking to a customer) Your cheque has bounced! I told you to do fund transfer or pay in cash. The problem is that you don’t want to pay.
(Seeing someone wave from a car, he goes forward and points towards the parking space. Mr. and Mrs. Sen park the car and saunter towards the gate of Priya Constructions.) Oh, Mr. Sen. You called me a few minutes back. Welcome…welcome. Welcome, Ma’am. Please come in.
(Rajan exchanges greetings with the couple and ushers them in. Mr. Sen casts a look at the building.)
Mr. SEN: You told me that the building was almost complete. But a lot of work is still to be done, which will take not less than six months.
RAJAN : Six months…yes, your guess is correct. But that is the time others will take, not us. Mr. Sen, Priya Construction is the fastest builder in the city. (Smiling) While they move like a sloth, we run. Don’t compare us with them. We’ll finish it within just two months.
Mr. SEN : Oh, I see. But you won’t compromise with the quality of construction, I hope.
RAJAN : Compromise with quality? Never, Mr. Sen. Our track record speaks for us. Please see our other constructions in the city. They have surpassed all standards of excellence.
(They come to the ground floor of the building. Rajan takes a brochure kept on a table.)
RAJAN : OK, let’s take the stairs and go to the third floor. You’ll get a good view of the surroundings.
(Rajan takes them to the eastern side of the building on the third floor. There’s a pond below, which is almost dry with some puddles in the middle. Buffaloes are wallowing in the mud and a foul smell was coming from it.)
RAJAN: (Showing them the plan in the brochure) This’ll be a 3BHK flat. This’ll be your kitchen. This’ll be living room, this’ll be master bedroom and this’ll be your dining hall.
Mrs. SEN: (Smiling) Oh, this is the kitchen. Quite spacious! Nice!
RAJAN: You like it? That’s fine. Thank you, Ma’am. (Going towards the edge of the floor) Here’ll be your balcony. (Smiling) You can see the lake and enjoy your cup of tea in the morning.
Mr. SEN: What lake, Rajan bhai? It’s just a pond. That too is dry and stinking!
RAJAN: We’ll revive the lake, Mr. Sen, and there’ll be fountains in it. You won’t see what it’s now after two years. It’s in our brochure, you see.
Mr. SEN: (Smiling) OK, but… many builders leave things unfinished.
RAJAN: That’s what I said at the beginning. Don’t judge us, seeing what others do. We deliver what we promise.
Mr. SEN: That’s what we want…I appreciate it. Can we now see the other side of the building?
RAJAN: Oh, sure! Please come along with me.
(Rajan takes them to the western side. There’s a women’s college opposite the building and a road in between. It’s 10 o’clock in the morning and some girls are seen entering the college gate.)
Mr. SEN : What’s that? Is it a school?
RAJAN : No, that’s a women’s college.
Mr. SEN : Hmm. A serious issue here!
RAJAN: What’s the problem, Mr. Sen? The condos in this side are selling fast. Most of them are booked and only three or four are left!
Mr. SEN: Rajan, do you have an 18-years old son at home?
Mr. SEN: Then, you won’t understand. I don’t want anything to distract my son from his studies now.
Mrs. SEN: If you won’t take it, what’s the point wasting our time?
RAJAN : Would you like to see some flats on the back side?
Mr. SEN: That’ll be nice! Let’s go.
(They saunter towards the southern side of the building. The side is open to a forest. A few monkeys were hanging from branches of the trees and jumping from one tree to another and chattering.)
RAJAN: This is the green zone … urban forestry. You’ll get a lot of fresh air from the jungle. The municipality will not allow clearing of the forest, so no construction will come up there.
Mrs. SEN : Oh, Soumen, no, not these flats. You’re on tour most of the times. I can’t stay alone. Ghosts roam about this jungle. And these monkeys will enter our flat and trouble me.
Mr. SEN : My wife has a problem. She’s afraid of darkness and ghosts and spirits.
RAJAN: Ma’am I promise there’ll be no ghosts here. This side will be lighted and won’t be dark for you to be afraid. Besides, do they really exist?
Mrs. SEN : No…no. They’re there and I fear them! I just read in the newspaper yesterday that people in a colony are living in fear because of some strange things happening at night. I won’t take any risk. (She walks away.)
RAJAN: Would you like to see flats in the front then?
Mr. SEN: But I saw a signboard on the other side that read ‘This land belongs to some group of hospital’. That means a hospital will come up there.
RAJAN: No construction is going on for now. But even if it comes up, what’s the problem? You’re now middle aged. Hospital will be nearby. Good only, no?
Mr. SEN: No, Rajan bhai, I can’t bear to see the sufferings of the people! I’ll wake up in the morning and see people in pains! I can’t bear that.
RAJAN : (Keeping his hand on his forehead) Mr. Sen, on that side, there’s lake and you’ve rejected the flat. Then there’s a women’s college and you’ve rejected it. Now you don’t like a jungle, you don’t like a hospital either. Definitely, there’ll be something or other everywhere.
Mr. Sen : I love nature and like your jungle side flat. But my wife fears ghosts and what can I do about that? I can’t go against her. That leaves me with your lake side flats. Currently there’s a filthy, stinking pond. But you told me you would clean up that.
RAJAN: So shall I book one of the lake side flats for you, Mr. Sen?
Mr. SEN: I’d think it over. I’ll call you, if I decide to buy one.
RAJAN: Thank you, Mr. Sen. Please decide quickly. This is the right time to book. As work progresses, price will only increase.
(Mr. Sen shakes hand with the builder and takes leave of him.)
Mr. and Mrs. Sen drive away, leaving a swirl of dust. They are not likely to book a condo in Priya Constructions, but nevertheless they are quite happy about seeing it. Who knows a condo meeting the requirements of both of them may be hidden in it and not noticed by them? Now that they have seen it, they can rest assured that they have not missed anything. But having visited most of the constructions in the town, they have only a few of them left to be seen. One hopes that they are mindful of that and make a choice very soon.